A white teen discovers a shape-shifting ability along with dangerous secrets.
High school junior Nessa Kurland desperately wants a cross-country track scholarship to secure not only her access to college, but also her escape from her small, chemically polluted, no-future town. She needs to be faster and trains when she can around school, her job at the vet, and taking her autistic brother for treatments in the local clinic. But things change rapidly once Nessa is bitten by a wolf: the wound heals miraculously, her senses begin to sharpen, and her speed improves dramatically almost overnight—the downside being that she also transforms into a white wolf at the new and full moons. Seeking guidance from a Native American practitioner of shamanism (his tribal affiliation is unspecified) and spending time with a wolf pack in the woods, Nessa begins to understand why the wolves chose her. Nessa’s confrontation with the dark truths about her town falls flat in a rushed ending that seems more intent on a sequel than a resolution. Flatter still is the cultural dissonance. Despite its (generic) borrowing of sacred Native American cultural myths, the narrative is more invested in its multiple, complex wolf characters than in the two identified Native characters, who remain simple, expositional (and even magical) helpers, conveniently out of the way through the majority of the text. These characters’ rejection of a monolithic view of Native peoples is, ironically, undermined by the text’s failure to acknowledge their specific heritages.
A lupine spin on the typical, tone-deaf appropriation narrative. (Paranormal thriller. 13-17)